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Laws that Protect Our Oceans

Photo of books for Clean Water Act

In addition to the BEACH Act, there are several laws designed to protect beaches and beach water by protecting the ocean.

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) (PDF) (21 pp, 218 K, About PDF)
The APPS (33 U.S.C. §§1905-1915) implements the provisions of Marpol 73/78, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978. ("Marpol" is short for marine pollution.) In 1987, APPS was amended by the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act. The MPPRCA requires EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to study the effects of improper disposal of plastics on the environment and methods to reduce or eliminate such adverse effects. MPPRCA also requires EPA, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to evaluate the use of volunteer groups in monitoring floatable debris.

Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act (MDRPRA) (PDF) (8 pp, 136K, About PDF)
The MDRPRA established programs within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) identify, determine sources of, assess, reduce, and prevent marine debris. MDRPRA also reactivates the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee, chaired by NOAA.

Shore Protection Act (SPA)
The SPA is applicable to transportation of municipal and commercial wastes in coastal waters. The SPA aims to minimize debris from being deposited into coastal waters from inadequate waste handling procedures by waste transporting vessels. EPA, in consultation with the Coast Guard, is responsible for developing regulations under the SPA.

Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA)
The MPRSA, also called the Ocean Dumping Act, generally prohibits:
  • transportation of material from the United States for the purpose of ocean dumping;
  • transportation of material from anywhere for the purpose of ocean dumping by U.S. agencies or U.S.-flagged vessels; and
  • dumping of material transported from outside the United States into the U.S. territorial sea.

The BEACH Act of 2000
The Act defines coastal recreation waters as the Great Lakes and marine coastal waters (including coastal estuaries) that states, territories, and tribes designate in their water quality standards for use for swimming, bathing, surfing, or similar water contact activities.

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